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The categories at this 12 months’s Emmy Awards on Sept. 17 built-in a minimum of one new addition: Outstanding Music Supervision. Though it’s not one of the primary honors handed out inside the glitzy are living spectacle, the statuette—which was once awarded to Susan Jacobs for her artwork on the HBO limited collection Big Little Lies—is a longer overdue acknowledgment of how essential song supervisors have turn out to be to the great fortune of TV shows, and to the careers of the musicians who end up on the soundtrack.

“Thirteen or 14 years ago when I started, it wasn’t really a very known profession,” says Rudy Chung, a song supervisor whose company, Hit the Ground Running, has provided the soundtracks for shows like HBO’s Silicon Valley, WGN America’s Underground and FOX’s Gotham. “They weren’t teaching it in classrooms like they are now. It was more of a word-of-mouth, cottage industry. It’s really picked up steam in the past seven or eight years.”

So so much so that song supervisors like Kier Lehman, who helped put together the soundtrack for HBO’s Insecure, and Zach Cowie, every other Emmy nominee this 12 months for his artwork on Netflix’s Master of None, are getting as so much press inside the song trade as those shows’ stars, Issa Rae and Aziz Ansari. And the song being decided on for the collection is getting this kind of buzz that the songs are being compiled on albums (similar to the newly introduced Silicon Valley soundtrack) and Spotify playlists with 1000’s of lovers.

Music supervisors have turn out to be integral to the great fortune of TV shows, and to the careers of the musicians who end up on the soundtrack.

The song trade is catching up with the fun that good TV placement can provide. Just like newshounds, song supervisors are finding their piece of email inboxes flooded with messages from publicists and labels pushing new artists. And Billboard, with the help of The Hollywood Reporter and TuneFind, an internet database of song used for film and television, is now compiling a consistent with 30 days chart of the Top TV Songs. No. 1 for August: The Weeknd’s “Die for You,” which was once featured in a in particular sexy scene in Insecure.

Music has been a central component to TV collection from the early days of the medium. Historically, though, it was once relegated to a catchy theme song, the background score for a decided on scene or a scene exchange, or, within the match that they’ve been lucky, a ratings-grabbing glance from a popular artist who would mime a song for the cameras. But since the ambitions of the producers and showrunners started to increase in opposition to the cinematic, in particular for single-camera shows inside the ‘80s, the speculation of the use of songs as setting and as cues for the internal joys and anguish of the characters onscreen started to get further attention-grabbing.

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Through the ‘90s and ‘00s, the method of a song supervisor began to be codified. Alexandra Patsavas, for example, not most simple helped break artists like Snow Patrol and The Fray into the mainstream by way of striking their songs in key scenes in Grey’s Anatomy, however as well as curated the bleeding-edge, adult-alternative fare that populated hit collection The OC. It was once moreover spherical that time that provide giants like Chung, Lehman and Lindsay Wolfington, song supervisor for E!’s The Royals and NBC’s The Night Shift, began to get their toeholds in this now coveted endeavor.

In 2010, the Guild of Music Supervisors was once established “to promote the craft of Music Supervision for the mutual benefit of all media stakeholders in film, television, games, advertising, trailers and emerging media.” These days, the existing crop of song supervisors want to artwork inside in some bizarre constraints. For stylish shows, the expectation is to supply recent sounds or hardly heard vintage tunes that can mirror the spirit of the show while moreover drawing target audience that so much closer to it. For collection set previously, the tried-and-true hits of that time period tend to be eschewed in make a selection of unusual possible choices. AMC’s Halt & Catch Fire, about rogue pc programmers inside the 1980s, has gleaned a couple of of its cool from punk and post-punk classics by way of Bad Brains and Wire. The song supervisors’ objective in every case is to provide a large number of possible choices to the shows’ producers, directors and editors.

“Upfront, we try to give them a bigger batch of music to work with,” says Lehman. “That way the editor has a lot more to pull from and to try for cutting to. Sometimes, if we have less of a specific direction, we can really go down a rabbit hole to find something. Once we get into a project, then our pitches are a lot more specific, and that can be three to five songs for a spot rather than at the beginning when it can be 30, 40, 50 tracks to start the process.”


Issa Rae featured rising R&B and hip-hop artists like SZA, Kari Faux and Rico Nasty on HBO’s Insecure (Justina Mintz/HBO).

In that regard, Lehman’s procedure was once relatively easy for Insecure. Creators Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore had a clear sense of the best way and sounds they wanted to present; this season it was once a wealth of longer term R&B and hip-hop artists like SZA, Kari Faux, Rico Nasty and Girls inside the Yard. Chung, too, was once able to set the tone for without equal season of Silicon Valley by way of commissioning new subject material from the Wu-Tang Clan, Too $hort and E-Vax (aka Evan Mast of Ratatat).

For further open-ended shows like those who Wolfington works on, it can be just a bit trickier, on the other hand the idea that, as ever, is to complement a scene so that. “I read each script and break down where I think they’ll need music—could be a bar scene, a montage at the end of the show, or maybe a special first-kiss moment between two characters,” Wolfington says. “I at all times try to find moments that we can highlight with a very good song.”

The most simple exact hurdles song supervisor has to overcome are, naturally, to do with money. There’s the artwork this is going into licensing a song, or in relation to Chung and Silicon Valley, helping fund the completion of a very good demo observe, while moreover working right through the budgetary constraints of regardless of production company or neighborhood is footing the bill.

“The way in which music supervisors operate is very left brain/right brain working together,” says Amanda Byers, communications director for TuneFind. “It’s helping the showrunner realize this creative vision with the budget they’ve been given. Oftentimes, they’ve been given Champagne tastes on a Coca-Cola budget. ‘I know the vibe you’re going for; here are the artists and options to make that vision happen that we can afford.’”


There’s moreover the subject of having a look to satisfy all the stakeholders fascinated by a decided on song. Chung (pictured left) says he regularly has to prepare elaborate conference calls with songwriters, label execs, legal professionals and the producers of the collection he’s working without delay to get a deal made. Sometimes issues of rights can’t be ironed out in time, as was once the case with a Flying Lotus/Anderson .Paak/Thundercat collaboration that Lehman wanted to use inside the first season of Insecure on the other hand had to abandon when they discovered one of the artists was once contractually blocked from being featured on the observe. With the tight production agenda looming, they had to scramble for a replace song. That’s when the song supervisor has to get creative, as when Wolfington in point of fact wanted to use the song “Half Light” for an episode of The Royals on the other hand its creator, Dan Smith of the band Bastille, balked.

“He was good with having the song in the show, but just didn’t want his recording of it used,” she recalls. “The show and network loved it, so I had to find the right artist [in this case, the musician known as Banners] who was willing to cover it. We ended up with a wonderful track that was exclusive and unique to the show.”

Wolfington’s experience introducing Banners to a wider audience is something that song supervisors generally tend to check out for: the chance to give a brand spanking new or emerging artists a big bump by way of losing one in every of their songs in a popular collection. Each one has their brag-worthy accomplishments, like Chung helping to get a Regina Spektor song in an episode of CSI: New York, or Lehman finding a spot for Kid Cudi’s “Day and Night” in Entourage.

“When I hear from artists we used on the show, they tell me how great and enthusiastic our fans were,” says Wolfington. “That the placements not most simple put them on TV on the other hand that lovers were given right here to their shows. Not most simple inside the States. One artist steered me he carried out shows in Europe which have been filled with lovers who steered him they’d discovered his song via One Tree Hill. It’s awesome to appear a placement give life to an artist and their song previous the show.”

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